When it comes to weight loss, there’s no lack of diets promising fast results. There are low-carb diets, high-carb diets, low-fat diets, grapefruit diets, cabbage soup diets and blood type diets, to name a few.
But no matter what diet you may try, to lose weight, you must take in fewer calories than your body uses. Most people try to reduce their calorie intake by focusing on food, but another way may be to think about what you drink.
What do you drink? It makes more difference than you think!
Calories in drinks are not hidden (they’re listed right on the Nutrition Facts label), but many people don’t realize just how many calories beverages can contribute to their daily intake.
For example, if you have your morning coffee shop run and grab a medium (16 ounces) café latte made with whole milk that is 265 calories but if you chose a small (12 ounces) café latte made with fat-free milk you can cut your calories by over half at 125.
Learn to read Nutrition Facts carefully
Be aware that the Nutrition Facts label on beverage containers may give the calories for only part of the contents. For example, a label on a 20 ounce bottle may only list an 8 ounce serving (100 calories) even though the bottle contains 20 ounces, or 2.5 servings.
To figure out how many calories are in the whole bottle, you need to multiply the number of calories in one serving by the number of servings in the bottle (100 x 2.5). You can see that the contents of the entire bottle actually contain 250 calories even though what the label calls a “serving” only contains 100. This shows that you need to look closely at the serving size when comparing the calorie content of different beverages.
High-calorie culprits in unexpected places
Coffee drinks and blended fruit smoothies sound innocent enough, but the calories in some of your favorite coffee-shop or smoothie-stand items may surprise you.
Check the website or in-store nutrition information of your favorite coffee or smoothie shop to find out how many calories are in different menu items. And when a smoothie or coffee craving kicks in, here are some tips to minimize the caloric damage:
• Request your drink be made with fat-free (skim) milk instead of whole milk.
• Order the smallest size available.
• Get back to basics. Order a plain cup of coffee with fat-free milk and artificial sweetener or drink it black.
Better beverage choices made easy
Now that you know how much difference a drink can make, here are some ways to make smart beverage choices:
• Choose water, diet, or low-calorie beverages instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.
• For a quick, easy, and inexpensive thirst-quencher, carry a water bottle and refill it throughout the day.
• Don’t stock the fridge with sugar-sweetened beverages. Instead, keep a jug or bottles of cold water in the fridge.
• Serve water with meals.
• Make water more exciting by adding slices of lemon, lime, cucumber, or watermelon, or drink sparkling water.
• Add a splash of 100% juice to plain sparkling water for a refreshing, low-calorie drink.
• When you do opt for a sugar-sweetened beverage, go for the small size. Some companies are now selling 8 ounce cans and bottles of soda, which contain about 100 calories.
• Be a role, model for your friends and family by choosing healthy, low-calorie beverages.